Introduction: Table Saw Station

Picture of Table Saw Station
I have always wanted a good quality cabinet makers table saw but dont want to fork out the cash to purchase one.  I have made due with my small contractors saw for the last few years and decided now is a good time to retrofit this small saw.  I plan to build a large frame around this existing table to increase its ability to cut larger sheet goods, and also give it a mounting system for a proper biesemeyer fence.

The whole build from start to finish has been documented with both video and pictures.  Enjoy!

Step 1: Subframe

Picture of Subframe
The start of the saw station is with the build up of the subframe.  The entire subframe is built up from 2x4 lumber.  It its important when designing to take into account the actual dimensions of the lumber you are using.  For the most part a 2x4 stud will actually measure ~0.5" shorter in both axis.  You can also get variances in sized depending on the drying process (not all of my 2x4 lumber was from the same batch, and as such there is differences in size...all easily designed around so long as you expect it).

A square will make your life MUCH easier when building big boxes like this.  Cheap adjustable squares are usually just that, cheap and not square.  A set of machinist squares are the best but the next best thing at a fraction of the cost are 1 piece framing squares.  Even the cheap ones seem to hold a good tolerance thru their length.

Step 2: Surfaces

Picture of Surfaces
For the main supporting and working surfaces of the saw I used 3/4" shop grade birch and 1/2" melamine.

Shop grade birch isn't quite as nice as baltic birch and has quite a few less ply's, but for a structural element it will more then suffice.  The melamine could be replaced with whatever hard wearing surface you like, I had a bunch of 12" wide shelving slabs in my wood pile so that is what I used...plus its very inexpensive and fairly easy to cut, even if you only have a handsaw.

A dowelling jig is a wonderful tool to add to your collection at anytime.  I purchased it a few years ago and it has served me well since. The clamping style dowelling jigs are very nice when working with low density material like melamine as it squeezes the wood together to help prevent splitting.

Step 3: Biesemeyer Fence Layout

Picture of Biesemeyer Fence Layout
The most important part of this saw for me was a solid square fence.  The fence that is included with most contractor saws is sufficient but usually difficult to keep square and very difficult to micro adjust.  Biesemeyer fences have been around for quite some time and when built correctly result in a very rigid fence that will always pull itself into square.

I purchased all the metal for this fence from a local metal supplier and set to work bolting it all together.  I went a little overkill on the thickness of material used (3/16") but I didn't want any worries about bending or warp from use.  For the design I went with it was also necessary to tap into the material for quite a few of the bolt holes so the extra thickness is required here.

If the funds allow for it I would go with an aluminum extrusion for the main slide rail and the actual fence rail (sufficient rigidity and much less weight).  Sadly I do not have a local source of aluminum extrusions and didn't want to wait for mail order so steel it was for me.




Step 4: Finishing the Fence and Alignment

Picture of Finishing the Fence and Alignment
With the main guide rail installed onto the frame we start building all the supporting brackets to hold the sliding fence in position.  While table saw fences may sometimes look over complicated and challenging to reproduce they are very simple devices by nature, as this last video will show.

A set of clamps in indispensable for holding the rail in alignment.  A 70 odd inch length of 3/16" steel is far from light!

Since I don't have access to a lathe at home I used my drill press and a rotary tool to clean the ends of my 1/4" set screws for fence fine adjustment.  Cutting a quick slot in the end makes for an easy to work adjustment bolt.  These were installed into tapped holes and loctite'ed into place once I was happy with the fence angle. 

Due to some "design oversights" on my part the top of my fence guide rail was higher then I would have liked so I changed the plastic slide blocks from 1/4" HDPE to a thinner nylon bolt head which as been working very well.

At this point I was able to align the fence as close as possible by tape measure (depicted in the pictures).  Further alignment to the blade was accomplished by making cut into hardwood.  Normally one would also check to be sure that the blade is aligned to the miter slots first, then square up the fence.  I had aligned the blade to the slots in the past so I was able to forgo this step.


Step 5: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

A sacrificial piece of wood is a good thing to place along the side of the fence.  Not only will this keep you from inadvertently cutting into the metal fence, it will also allow the cut material to slide smoother, and let you bring the fence flush with the table surface.  I have designed this fence to ride ~1/16" of an inch above the table, the wood sides take up this difference.

With this saw station now complete I was able to use it to slowly upgrade itself (better table surface, better sacrificial fence choices, new cross cut sled, etc.).

The next steps are more for "beautifying" the saw :).  The entire outside of the cabinet will closed up with plywood, with the space directly under the saw used for saw dust extraction.  The large open space under the work surface will later be used to hold a router lift and storage cabinets. 

While this may not look as "high speed" as the unisaw I get to play with at work it cuts just as well.  All lumber for the saw was cut with an ugly el cheapo 40 tooth blade, but running a nicer budget brand blade (I'm using an 80 tooth freud right now) its more then capable of precise work.  A table saw is the heart of any workshop and I'm very please with the way this has turned out!  

I hope this build can inspire people that building can work just as well as buying...with the added element of fun!



Comments

mr_jcrp (author)2016-04-20

I bought this Makita MLT100 portable saw for my wood work. There is a small balcony I work in. So I built this small table on wheels to move the table saw wherever I want. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0YaVYjQ-FM

choffman15 (author)2014-07-29

Awesome build man. Its a real inspiration to ehat I envision. Thanks

choffman15 (author)choffman152014-08-06

My build, thanks for the inspiration

lolo1116 (author)choffman152016-04-04

where did you get the white plastic sheets on your fences. they seem sturdy and light weight

choffman15 (author)lolo11162016-04-04

They actually came installed on the rip fence. Its a Craftsman fence for a newer saw

RogerG16 (author)2015-12-20

Hi I took your layout idea and did something similar for myself. Trust It passes muster.

h310 (author)2015-07-12

Awesome bench, any chance on posting the plans. Can't find a link anywhere

wrsexton (author)2013-11-22

Now you're a couple years down the road, any updates or insights for fine tuning this great project?

Many thanks! In actuality I have changed nothing since I built it a few years back. I've clamped a board to the back now and then to keep the sawdust from flying out my garage door in the summer but other then that it has been working exactly as pictured. I have not even had to adjust the fence once in the time since I built it so I'm very happy with the outcome.

JimHTP (author)2013-09-23

That fence system is really good, would you consider doing a full instructable on just that portion with more detail?

Machine (author)2012-03-04

That's a nice bench. Well made, looks good, all the corners look 90 degrees. Everything looks straight, smooth.

Wish I could build a bench like that.

It's so good you might consider publishing the plans for a fee.

Thankyou for your kind words...the plans are far to simple to offer at a fee tho, I will upload the file to the warehouse and post a link along with the introduction video for anyone that wants a closer look at the rough outline.

Did you ever getting around to doing that? If so could you post a link please?

Great work BTW particularly with the fence.

QuestionConvenience (author)2012-03-10

Really exhaustively detailed. Excellent work. i had never even considered beefing up my contractor saw, although I had done a little research on after-market fences. Thanks for shifting my perspective!

Thanks! I had shot far more video then I posted but the invention of wireless networked smart phones really makes documenting/editing process much easier.

I'm glad I was able to shift your thoughts more towards the "make" end of the spectrum :) .

Confounded Machine (author)2012-03-07
Now with the saw complete this is the first project I made with it (actually I made a cross cut sled first, then used that to help build this puzzle).  The rip cuts would have been a bear with my old fence but is simple as pie with the new behemoth!

rickharris (author)2012-02-29

You should have a top guard over the blade and a riving knife behind the blade for safety reasons to stop material riding over the top of the blade and getting thrown back at you. Even with these items this still happens and can/does hurt - I know!

Other than that a neat build

h.bergeron (author)rickharris2012-03-03

this saw clearly came with those items and this person feels comfortable enough to not use them. free will is a great thing.

rickharris (author)h.bergeron2012-03-04

If it did they should go back on.

It's so often the case that people through inexperience, not having any problems in the past not having the reasons explained don't fit safety articles.

I have had a table saw, a large one, throw things at the operator even with these safety features so I feel obliged to tell users what is correct.

Indeed free will is a valuable thing, in general, ignorance isn't.

Thanks for the comments. I do agree a "proper" riving knife is a good thing for safety (the one on this saw was poor stamped steel that was causing more harm then good).

Blade guards are a fickle conversation topic (ask any experienced wood worker and I'll bet you'll get a whole spectrum of answers). I feel more comfortable without but thats my choice.


seamster (author)2012-03-03

I'm in the process of purchasing my first table saw right now, and this has given me some great ideas. Thanks!

Thanks!
I'm glad I was able to get your mind churning.

dimmaz88 (author)2012-02-29

Awesome project. Simple and effective.
I'll have to make one similar when I have the room!

Keep up the good work.

blkhawk (author)2012-02-28

Great job! I thought about doing something similar. I find myself cutting large sheets of plywood and this will work perfectly for that purpose.

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Bio: I'm a electronic engineering tech with massive love for DIY building, and tools that make tools.
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